Brussels unhappy at portrayal of its role in bailout

Senior officials believe Government failed to give Europe credit for exit success

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso: said it would be “wrong to give the impression that Europe has created a problem for Ireland and now Europe has to help Ireland”. Photograph: Julien Warnand

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso: said it would be “wrong to give the impression that Europe has created a problem for Ireland and now Europe has to help Ireland”. Photograph: Julien Warnand

Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 12:50

Senior Brussels officials are unhappy at the Government’s perceived failure to give Europe due credit for Ireland’s successful bailout exit.

The disquiet emerged the day after European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso said the problems created in the euro zone by the Irish banking crash should be taken into consideration. The commission moved yesterday to clarify remarks in which Mr Barroso appeared to dampen expectation of any European aid to compensate Ireland for recapitalising the banks.

Mr Barroso’s spokeswoman said he was not referring to the particular scheme from which Ireland hopes to draw such aid when he said agreements made were “for the future” and not “retroactive”.

He was referring to a separate initiative settled this week in which the EU powers will impose a levy on banks to create a fund to resolve future banking crises.

At the end of a two-day EU summit in Brussels, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted his campaign for retrospective help to tackle legacy banking losses remains in play. There was no difference of opinion with Mr Barroso, the Taoiseach added.

While Germany remains opposed to aid for Ireland to deal with historic banking costs, Mr Kenny said a pledge of support from EU leaders last year to break the link between bank and sovereign debts remains unchanged.

“The European Commission have always been very favourable towards Ireland, and president Barroso himself in my meetings with him over the years has always been very favourable to Ireland,” Mr Kenny said.

However, there is disquiet in European circles that recognition for Europe’s solidarity was not more prominent as Ireland left the bailout. “There is frustration in Brussels that the Irish Government has not properly recognised the fact that Europe was asked to step in to solve an Irish problem, created by the banking sector, and at all times has shown support for Ireland,” said a senior EU source.

In his remarks on Thursday night, Mr Barroso said it would be “wrong to give the impression that Europe has created a problem for Ireland and now Europe has to help Ireland”. He added: “In fact it was the banking sector in Ireland that was one of the biggest problems in the world in terms of banking stability. Let’s be honest about this.”

While praising the efforts of the Irish people, he said the euro was “the victim” of irresponsible practices in the Irish financial sector .

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